Memphis wins third straight C-USA titleMar 15, 2008 - 7:23 PM MEMPHIS, Tennessee (Ticker) -- Memphis showed its ready for the NCAA Tournament.
Antonio Anderson keyed an early surge as the third-ranked Tigers coasted to their third straight Conference USA tournament title Saturday with a 77-51 rout of weary Tulsa.
Unbeaten in conference play in the regular season, the Tigers (33-1) were dominant in the postseason tournament on their home floor, winning their three games by an average of 20.7 points as they all but locked up a top seed for the NCAA Tournament.
"We just played on national television, and people saw us," Memphis coach John Calipari said. "Hopefully, we're a (No.) 1 seed. Where they put us and where they rank us in those ones, what do we do about it now? It doesn't matter. They saw it. They watched it. If there's people out there better than us, they'll be rated higher than us. I will be surprised if we're not a (No.) 1 seed."
The championship game had little suspense, with the Tigers building a double-digit lead in under seven minutes and gradually increasing it thereafter against the seventh-seeded Golden Hurricane (20-13), who were playing for a fourth straight day.
Anderson made a 3-pointer and converted two layups as the Tigers used an early 17-2 run to take control. Chris Douglas-Roberts' layup at the 11:33 mark capped the surge and provided a 21-6 cushion.
Doneal Mack's 3-pointer with 7:43 to go before intermission extended the Tigers' advantage to 31-10.
Anderson scored 10 of his 19 points in the first half, which ended with the Tigers holding a commanding 42-13 cushion.
"We're just blessed we got put in this situation and lucky we chose to come here and play for coach and he gave us the opportunity to go out and play our style of basketball and do what we need to do to win these games," Anderson said.
Getting easy baskets in transition, the Tigers shot 59 percent (16-of-27) in the opening 20 minutes as they turned the game into a laugher. Overall, the Tigers shot 57 percent (30-of-53) and made 11-of-22 3-pointers.
Douglas-Roberts added 16 points for Memphis, which has lost in the regional finals of the NCAA Tournament the last two seasons.
In in its first tournament championship game since 2003 when they were part of the Western Athletic Conference, the Golden Hurricane never found their legs. They missed all nine of their 3-point attempts and shot just 22 percent (6-of-27) in the first half.
Tulsa coach Doug Wojcik praised the Tigers' unselfishness.
"They are a legitimate contender to win it all," he said. "I really admire the chemistry between Chris Douglas-Roberts, Derrick Rose and Antonio Anderson. Their goals are greater than their individual accolades. My hats off to them."
Jerome Jordan scored 17 points for Tulsa, which lost all three of its meetings against Memphis this season by double digits.
"There is no shame in this," Wojcik said. "I talked to the guys about keeping their chins up. We just played the number two ranked team at 10:30 in the morning on the fourth day of the tournament on their homecourt. It's a great accomplishment."
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